Addressing the dirty sustainability secrets of the tech industry

In this guest post, Priyanka Roy, enterprise evangelist at IT operations and service management software maker ManageEngine talks about the steps enterprises and their employees can take to help make their operations greener.

To face the climate crisis, businesses need to innovate, and technology can play a pivotal role in easing the adoption of sustainability through the digitalisation of value chains. However, the proliferation of technology massively contributes to the global carbon footprint, which is a problem we need to fix.

The IT industry accounts for up to 3.9% of Earth’s carbon emissions. The high-performance computing sector, which includes artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain technologies, is predicted to become a $49.4 billion industry by 2025. These new computing-intensive technologies have huge environmental repercussions that are unaccounted for.

While some tech organisations are beginning to opt for green energy sources to combat carbon emissions, the industry is still primarily fossil-fuel-driven. To keep online activities running, there are datacentres and a web of optic cables working in tandem, including new-age warehouses and datacentres that constitute almost 33% of the ICT industry’s carbon emissions.

However, things can be rectified if organisations collectively start implementing changes to adopt a sustainable approach, as outlined below.

Sustainability tips for organisations

Internal audits: With the help of surveys, evaluate the current processes followed across the value chain to check for any unsustainable practices that may contribute to the organisation’s carbon footprint. For example, assess the source of carbon emissions, turn off unused appliances, and optimise datacentres.

Green upgrades: Track the consumption of resources across the organisation. This can also include upgrades that range from the utilisation of energy-efficient equipment to implementing eco-friendly software within the organisation.

Green power sources: Look for renewable sources of energy that can power the company. Companies can be strategically located close to power plants that supply renewable energy and can install solar power units within their premises.

Operational efficiency: Datacentres must be managed efficiently to consume less storage and power. Operational efficiency of datacentres can be achieved through the identification of suitable datacentre management software that helps with the timely analysis of bottlenecks, performance, and organisation of data to ensure optimum usage.

Datacentre temperature monitoring: Maintaining a cool environment in datacentres to offset the generated heat results in heavy electricity consumption. Smart temperature control devices must be placed to monitor the temperature. Using temperature sensors, the cooling devices can be turned on or off depending on the desired temperature level to be maintained.

Some tips to extend sustainability to users

Green coding: This refers to programming code written to produce algorithms that reduce energy consumption during the use of the software. Green coding should result in the simplification of processes to increase efficiency at the user’s end. This can reduce glitches, processing time, and energy consumption through superior performance.

Reduction of device obsolescence: This is deploying software upgrades that do not make devices obsolete due to slowdowns and increased consumption of memory.

Customer review analysis: Customer reviews can be analysed to find any hidden sustainability problems. For example, a customer review might talk about increased battery consumption due to a software upgrade on their device. This can mean that the software upgrade is not eco-friendly.

Customer education: Customers often feel that they aren’t directly responsible for maintaining sustainability until they are made aware of the alarming impact of individual actions. Make customers environmentally conscious through all communication touchpoints to help them on their journey to eco-friendliness.

ManageEngine’s parent company, Zoho Corporation powers its Indian offices with a 5MV solar power plant and has set up an office near Austin, Texas that doubles as a farm. Through this innovative effort to curb carbon consumption, employees can work from the Wi-Fi-enabled farmhouse as well as step out to engage in farming. It is important to keep in mind that in this continuous cycle of consuming and releasing energy, we need to make green interventions today for a cleaner tomorrow.

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